The UFC is continuing to push forward with international expansion plans, with South American expansion key, and returns to China and Russia likely.
Moncton, NB — While UFC Moncton wasn’t the biggest card in terms of UFC events, UFC Vice President of Content and International David Shaw pointed out following the event Saturday that the card brought in fans from all over Atlantic Canada. “It’s a testament to how well the sport’s growing out here,” he said, adding that the promotion would be back at some point.
Future plans were a big talking point following the event — both in the region and abroad. “We’re going to be back in Canada next year three times,” Shaw affirmed. “We haven’t been to Montreal in a while. We haven’t been to Vancouver in a while. We’ve had great success in Alberta in the last couple years, this Summer with Calgary, last September with Edmonton. We’ve got Toronto upcoming. Our plan is, as we’ve mentioned before, is to try to get from B.C. to Nova Scotia and everywhere in between.”
Noting that dates in Canada can be challenging due to NHL hockey, Shaw didn’t confirm that Montreal would be a destination in 2019, but added “hopefully it’s next year, maybe the year after.”
Russia, and China, remain priority destinations. “We want to be back in Russia next year, at least once, maybe twice. We’ve got our second event in China this year, in Beijing in November. We’ll go back to China next year,” Shaw revealed. He also hinted at further expansion in South America. “I think for 2019 we’ll continue to look to a few new South American markets. This year, Chile in May, upcoming in Argentina. We’re looking at Columbia, we’re looking at Uruguay, we’re looking at Peru. Nothing concrete yet.”
The ESPN deal, and the need to lock in dates, has added a wrinkle for the upcoming year, forcing the UFC to hold off announcing their schedule for the first quarter of 2019 until later than they historically would.
“There’s a few European markets we want to get to as well,” Shaw added, singling out France, where MMA has yet to be legalized, as one area of interest. In regards to Asian expansion, where ONE and RIZIN have become entrenched, Shaw reiterated that “we definitely want to get back to China.”
Beyond that, “I think there’s a few other markets that are starting make sense. It’d be great to get to Thailand at some point. Philippines as well. But our first order of business is to lock in the China show.”
“Singapore would also make sense next year, we’ve got a great relationship with the city,” he added. “We’ve got a few things upcoming, but nothing concrete yet that I can share publicly.”
UFC fans should have some dates soon, however. “We’ve locked in Q1 almost to the full extent. We’ve got a couple dates that we’re still shifting around,” said Shaw. “But we should be coming out in the next few weeks with pretty firm dates and locations, and platforms for 2019.”